CHILD WITNESS PROJECT
It is estimated that 1 out of every 3 children are victims of violence, abuse, exploitation, neglect and discrimination in every community, cultural, social or economic group in South Africa. These violations are under-recognised and under-reported barriers to child rights, and undermine the child victim’s survival, development and participation. Both the physical and psychological effects of child abuse are far-reaching, leading to lifelong consequences and profound difficulties for victims.
Dr Karen Muller and Ms Karen Hollely of the Institute for Child Witness Research and Training have for the past 20 years dedicated their lives to institutional and individual child victim support (prevention, response, protection and increasing the conviction rates in cases of child abuse).
The Institute is a registered service provider for the South African Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (now Department of Justice and Correctional Services)
1 000 cases of sexual abuse reported per week in 2016
It has undertaken research, developed and participated in the development of national policies for sexual offences, including the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act of 2007.
They are a training provider for government departments on matters relating to sexual violence against vulnerable groups, including women and children – having supported more than a 1000 abused children and trained over 5000 social workers, magistrates, prosecutors, police, court interpreters, intermediaries and NGOs throughout South Africa.They were similarly contracted by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development in 2013 to compile a report on the re-establishment of Sexual Offences Courts, on behalf of the Ministerial Advisory Task Team on the Adjudication of Sexual Offence Matters.Twenty-two of these courts have now been established across South Africa, with a further 57 ear-marked for upgrading in the 2014/2015 financial period.
The Institute is now also a preferred training provider for the Forensic Social Workers of the South African Police Service.It is contracted by UNICEF South Africa to provide technical assistance on numerous government projects aimed at responding to and preventing sexual abuse of children. It is also a member of a national consortium of organisations working with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund to address sexual violence against girls in schools (SEVISSA Project).
The Institute has also delivered research, training and consulting services to Governments and International Agencies (UNICEF, UNESCO, ANPPCAN) in Zambia, Swaziland, Namibia, Ethiopia, India, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom and United States of America.
It has developed 10 discipline specific training courses on child witnesses, written six textbooks on the topic of child witnesses and published over 50 accredited journal articles.
The Institute and the Foundation on Justice for Child Witnesses are spearheading an initiative to mobilise local, regional and international support to increase awareness of this pandemic, to support victims of abuse, increase conviction rates of perpetrators and significantly increase its research and trainer capacity to address the challenges of child abuse and the protection of child witnesses – similarly becoming the national and global voice on justice for child witnesses in Africa.Child abuse can only be prevented and reduced if efforts are coordinated and local, regional and international support obtained to address the problem.
Dr Muller, Director of the Institute and International Expert on Child Witnesses, believes the challenges facing South Africa and Africa can only be resolved if a co-ordinated, multi- disciplinary approach is taken by governments, government departments, as well as local and international institutions supporting and having a role to play in child abuse.
Child abuse is an under-recognised and under-reported barrier to child rights. It undermines the child victim’s survival and development. At present role players do not follow a holistic approach to dealing with child abuse and services are fragmented. It is essential that role-players in the system become specialised to deal with these cases and to provide effective services to victims. Focussed research is lacking in this area and contributes to the difficulties experienced by children accessing the criminal justice system. To address these concerns, the Institute must produce ongoing credible research and provide accredited training and qualifications to ensure that the secondary traumatisation of children in the criminal justice system is reduced and conviction rates are increased.
A Foundation on Justice for Child Witnesses has just been established to support the Institute and victims of abuse.
Child Witness Foundation Objectives
The objectives of the Foundation can be summarised as follows:
To create international awareness of the child abuse pandemic and be a voice for abused children (drive an advocacy campaign)
To mobilise international support (funding, partnerships, capacity, etc.) for the Child Witness Institute (Institute for Child Witness Research and Training to increase its capacity, as well as research and training output to impact significantly on the reduction of child abuse and to increase in the conviction rate of offenders.
Child Witness Foundation requires your support to come to the rescue of abused children, create awareness of this pandemic, address shortcomings in the justice system and, importantly, raise a substantial amount of money to capacitate the Institute to continue and expand its important work.
Projects planned are described in the attached main document. You will see from the document and budget that an estimated amount of R 30m over a 5-year period is required. The objective with the Cycle Tour, as detailed above is to raise more than R3m in 2017 and 2018. Round Table Southern Africa, through its Association Project is actively contributing towards the Foundation.